There's further consolidation on the way in the Internet research sector with Net measurement company Netratings [NASDAQ:NTRT] Thursday evening announcing an agreement to merge with rival Jupiter Media Metrix [NASDAQ:JMXI] and take full control of a joint venture with partner ACNeilsen.
Jupiter Media Metrix is itself the result of the acquisition of Jupiter Communications by Media Metrix last year.
This latest transaction calls for Netratings to pay about $71.2 million for Jupiter Media Metrix in a deal set to close early next year.
Both companies conduct research into Internet and technology audiences and their online behavior.
Netratings on its own is actually the smaller of the two companies, reporting revenues of $20.4 million in 2000, compared to Jupiter Media Metrix's $142.8 million in sales during the same year.
Jupiter Media Metrix shareholders are being offered 0.1490 Netratings shares, or $1.95 in cash, for each of their shares. The agreement stipulates that only between 30 percent and 50 percent of the shares may be paid for with cash.
The deal will also end the patent lawsuit Jupiter Media Metrix filed against Netratings, and includes loans of up to $25 million for Jupiter Media Metrix.
Netratings also announced Thursday it will buy out research firm ACNeilsen's controlling share in the ACNielsen Eratings.com joint Internet measurement venture for $16.4 million.
Netratings at present only owns 19.9 percent of ACNielsen Eratings.com.
In a statement, Netratings said the purchase would allow the company to "streamline its international operations and consolidate its services under a global brand."
Netratings is controlled by Netherland-based media group VNU, which also owns ACNeilsen.
Former ACNielsen Eratings.com President Bill Pulver will become CEO and president of the combined company after the deal is completed.
Accompanying Netratings' merger announcement were revised third-quarter financial expectations including a slight increase in revenue and a lower loss per share.
--Reported By Adam Creed, Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .